Brussels (15 November) — The 46th meeting of the European Economic Area (EEA) was held in Brussels on 15 November. The meeting was dominated by a discussion that focused on assessing the implementation of the EEA Agreement, with an emphasis on achieving the objectives of the digital single market. The Council meeting was co-chaired on behalf of the EU i by Lukáš Parízek, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, while the delegation of EEA States was represented by the Norwegian Minister for EEA and EU Affairs, Elisabeth Aspaker.
“Development of the digital single market is one of the main priorities of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU. We consider it important to provide citizens with a free flow of data as the fifth EU fundamental freedom, which is a certainty in the 21st century.”
“Development of the digital single market is one of the main priorities of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU. We consider it important to provide citizens with a free flow of data as the fifth EU fundamental freedom, which is a certainty in the 21st century,” the State Secretary said. One of the Slovak Presidency’s key objectives in this area is to reach an agreement among Member States on the proposal for revision of wholesale international roaming charges before the end of the year, which would abolish roaming charges for EU citizens from June 2017.
Partners confirmed their strong support for the digital single market, in particular in the context of the ‘shared economy’, which has great potential for competition, development, growth, job creation and innovation. State Secretary Parízek informed EEA States that the Slovak Presidency is organising a conference on the shared economy today in Brussels, the aim of which is for Member States to exchange experience. The EEA states, which consider the interconnected digital economy a priority, are also invited to the conference.
The State Secretary also stressed the fundamental importance of the EEA Agreement for improving economic and trade relations between the EU and the countries of the EEA. He stated: “Since the last meeting of the European Economic Area Council in May 2016, good mutual relations in various fields such as financial services, trade in the agriculture sector and cooperation on climate change are constantly being reaffirmed and improved.”
After the formal meeting of the EEA Council, the discussion also focused on topical political issues such as the Western Balkans, Russia, Ukraine, the migration crisis, and the new EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. During the discussion on the Western Balkans, State Secretary Parízek stressed that “the enlargement policy is a valuable tool for the EU in the reform process in these countries.”
The EEA Council was also attended by Aurelia Frick, Liechtenstein’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Stefán Haukur Jóhannesson.